We have been talking a lot about the different soft skills we need to accelerate our career success, including self-management skills, which are needed to build inner excellence (like patience, persistence, confidence), and people skills (like communication skills, managing people skills, etc.). Well, one thing is common between all of these topics: in order to master any of these skills, we need to make changes in our behaviors at work.
I say over and over again that making improvements in any one of these skills takes time and practice. What I am really saying is that you have to change to improve! After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!
- If you want to be more vocal in meetings, you have to speak up, instead of staying quiet like you normally do!
- If you want to have a better relationship with your boss, you have to try to initiate something new when you two interact – like proactively set up lunch to get his feedback.
- If you want to be more self aware, you need to start asking people how they perceive you, and listen to what they have to say with an open mind.
- If you want to be a better presenter, you have to choose to practice a little more before a presentation and use a different technique to see if it works.
By its very definition, change is outside of our default habit. If we’ve spent 10 years working one way, like always staying quiet in meetings, it seems overwhelming to visualize becoming vocal overnight. It’s uncomfortable to change, so many of us feel daunted by the prospect of altering our behavior.
I want to introduce a different perspective on change, one that will make it easier for you to alter your habits. It’s called baby steps, and no expectations
- Don’t expect yourself to change overnight. No one can do that, so expecting to change quickly will overwhelm you, and set yourself up for self-defeat.
I have a bad habit of doing that with anything new. Being an overachiever, I want to get there already, but human behavior does not work that way. We are creatures of habit, and habits take time to change. In order to take the pressure off, don’t expect to make a complete 180. This way, whatever you do change is over-achieving. Why not have this perspective if it will motivate you to try something new?
- Take baby steps. Let’s take an example: Let’s say you tell yourself “I want to be more vocal in meetings, so others will recognize my contributions and value my opinions.” Wow, that sounds like a lot to achieve. You won’t get there in one meeting. The good news is there are hundreds of meetings in your future just in the coming year. You can just decide to make one change in one meeting. Start small — the best way to become more vocal is by asking a question in a meeting.
Start by forgetting your overall goal, and just do baby steps. In the next meeting, ask a question. Any question will do. It doesn’t have to be a smart one, nor does it have to be perfectly worded. Your measure for success is whether you got yourself to ask that question or not in that meeting. Now, does that seem more doable? Just focus on that until you do it, and then you can think about taking another baby step.
The point is that change rarely happens over night. It happens every single time you decide to do anything differently at work. Not everything you try to do differently will work, so expect set backs. However, this is part of the process of change. You can then learn what doesn’t work, and not do that again.
My point is that change is hard, but you can set easy goals today and just make one baby step in any direction. Once you get used to making baby steps every day, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve learned and changed! So, choose a baby step to take at work today! Just do it! Whatever the result, as long as you take the step, you are changing for the better.
Your comments: What baby steps will you take at work today to change? Add your comments below and let’s have a discussion.
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